Messi, Donnarumma & the best free agents STILL available on a Bosman this summer

Cameron Smith

Every summer we see thousands of contracts expire across the world of football and, if new deals are not agreed, these players are free to leave their clubs for nothing.

Whilst many of these players are relatively unknown, in 2021 there are several high-profile stars who are exiting their clubs.

Lionel Messi and Gigi Donnarumma are just two of a number of world-class players who will be free agents at the end of June, while a number of stars have already signed pre-contracts.

Below, Football Transfers runs through some of the biggest names who see their deals expire.

Which players are available on a Bosman this summer?

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Gigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)

Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Fernandinho (Man CIty)

Fernandinho

Fernandinho

Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich)

Memphis Depay (Lyon)

Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan)

Hakan Calhanoglu

Hakan Calhanoglu

Juan Mata (Man Utd)

David Luiz (Arsenal)

Gigi Buffon (Juventus)

Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich)

Stevan Jovetic (Monaco)

Elseid Hysaj (Napoli)

Nikola Maksimovic (Napoli)

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)

Shkodran Mustafi (Schalke)

Nicolas N'Koulou (Torino)

Danny Rose (Tottenham)

Andy Carroll (Newcastle)

Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace)

Patrick van Aanholt

Patrick van Aanholt

Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)

Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace)

Robbie Brady (Burnley)

Willy Caballero (Chelsea)

Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea)

Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace)

Which players have already moved on a Bosman this summer?

David Alaba (Bayern Munich to Real Madrid)

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City to Barcelona)

Sergio Aguero, Barcelona, 2021-22

Sergio Aguero, Barcelona, 2021-22

Eric Garcia (Manchester City to Barcelona)

Gini Wijnaldum (Liverpool to PSG)

Florian Thauvin (Marseille to Tigres)

Moussa Marega (Porto to Al Hilal)

Vincent Aboubakar (Porto to Al-Nassr)

Theo Walcott (Everton to Southampton)

What is the Bosman ruling?

The Bosman ruling obliges professional football clubs to allow players to move freely between clubs once their contracts have expired.

Players can sign a pre-contract agreement with another club for a free transfer if their contract with their existing club has less than six months remaining.

It was named after Jean-Marc Bosman, a Belgian footballer who brought a legal case in 1990 which resulted in the ruling.

What is a free agent?

A free agent is a player who is not under contract at any club, their contract at a club has expired and they are yet to sign a new contract with a different team. They are eligible to sign for any club.

Who are the best free transfer signings of all time? 

With the definition of the Bosman rule established, who have been the best free transfer signings of all time?

There have been many brilliant Bosmans (and a few bad ones!) over the last three decades – here are some of the best below…

Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski is arguably the best free signing of all time. Leaving Borussia Dortmund after 187 games and 103 goals, Lewandowski was already one of Europe’s most feared strikers, and his reputation has grown ten-fold since his move to Bayern Munich.

His Dortmund contract expired in June 2014, and after agreeing a deal with Bayern, he joined the Bavarians on July 1 2014 to begin a poetic relationship with the club.

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski

He has won the Bundesliga title in every season since his move to the club, and his goals in 2020 helped guide them to a first Champions League triumph since 2013.

Andrea Pirlo – AC Milan to Juventus

One of the best players in the world left Milan for Serie A rivals Juventus as a free agent in 2011 and the fact that was allowed to happen is quite frankly absurd.

Pirlo was a joy to watch, and truly played the game at his pace, a tempo set by his majestic passing range and close control.

In his four years for the Old Lady, Pirlo won the Scudetto every season, cementing himself into Juventus history in the process.

Not a goalscorer, or a prolific assist-creator, Pirlo did the simple things better than anybody, and there’s a reason why he is held in such high regard at Juventus, the club he became the first-team manager of in 2020.

Paul Pogba – Manchester United to Juventus

More so than his performances for Juventus, it’s the £89 million profit that the Old Lady made off Paul Pogba that really stands out.

After struggling to break into the Man Utd first-team, Pogba left in search of an opportunity, and he certainly got one at Juventus.

After signing as a free agent, he made 178 appearances for the club, scoring 34 and assisting 40, whilst also picking up the Golden Boy award in 2013 and four Serie A titles along the way.

His performances then led to United shelling out a world record fee to re-sign the player they had once called their own; genius business from Juventus.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

Sol Campbell – Tottenham to Arsenal

Sol Campbell committed one of the biggest ‘crimes’ in football when he left Tottenham to join North London rivals Arsenal on a Bosman in the summer of 2001.

He had made 269 appearances for the Lilywhites and cemented himself as a legend of the club before his betrayal.

However, it’s unlikely that he cares about the hatred towards him from some Spurs fans as he won two Premier League titles at Arsenal, including being part of the Invincible side of 2003/04.

He also won three FA Cups with the Gunners and after making over 200 appearances for the club, he will have no regrets about the move.

Steve McManaman – Liverpool to Real Madrid

Steve McManaman had initially agreed to join Barcelona in a £12m move in 1997, but the move fell through. He eventually agreed a pre-contract deal with Clasico rivals Real Madrid in 1999 when five months were still left on his Liverpool contract.

In his first season at the Bernabeu, McManaman became the first English player to win the Champions League with a foreign club, and he repeated the achievement with another Champions League triumph two years later.

In total he won two Champions League trophies, two La Liga’s, two Spanish Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup and one UEFA Super Cup, and made 158 appearances for Los Blancos.